Practising humour: knowledge sharing and humour in the workplace

Swedish School of Library and Information Science, University of Borås, Sweden
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Information Research, 2017, 22 (4), pp. 1 - 9
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Introduction Multi-disciplinary teams created to develop more sustainable ways of working are a focus for investigation into the practices of knowledge sharing. This study, taking a practice theoretical approach, explores the extent to which humour is associated with knowledge sharing and the roles it may play in the practice. Method. Nine meetings of a multi-disciplinary project team in local government established to model new sustainable work practices were observed, audio-recorded and subsequently transcribed. Analysis. Content analysis of the transcriptions of the meetings was carried out, using emergent coding. The frequency, types and themes of humour used by the team were identified and considered in the context of information activities. Results. Among the fifty-two instances of humour, the three most frequent types were witticisms, put-downs and self-denigration. The themes of creativity, exercising control and superiority to others emerged. Humour was mostly used in discussions of administrative aspects of the project, including agenda setting, evaluation and reporting to other council committees. Conclusion. The use of humour demonstrated a paradox between needing to act as a creative and innovative team to model a new way of working and continuing to work in the traditional reporting and communication structures of the traditional workplace.
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